It felt like we were all in this together.
The musicians. The supporters. The promoters. The business leaders. Even the parents selling scorching canines.
It was the scarce minute when the strains that often separate different groups appeared to vanish, resulting in the reassuring sense of unity in the time when people agree on so little.
It was the Band Together Bay Area Benefit Concert, a fundraiser for North Bay hearth reduction endeavours that drew some forty,000 songs enthusiasts to AT&T Park in San Francisco on Nov. 9.
The lineup featured mostly local acts – legendary rock group Metallica, popular jam band Dead & Company, punk-rock titans Rancid, hip-hop star G-Eazy and soul singer Raphael Saadiq. The one big import was multiplatinum singer-songwriter Dave Matthews, who appeared with his guitar-playing pal Tim Reynolds at the show.
The acts all delivered enjoyable sets, especially Metallica, who capped off the evening with a thrilling performance. And all of the acts donated their time and talent in support of the cause.
And there was no shortage of sponsors involved – major players like Salesforce and Google – who had already helped raise some $12 million for hearth reduction initiatives by the time the show began.
Also of note, the approximately five-hour concert was co-presented by rival promoters Live Nation and Another Planet Entertainment. Yet, they weren’t competing against each other this time – they have been working together to create something that men and women will likely remember for years to come.
“Tonight’s concert will go down in Bay Area songs history as one of the greats,” said Gregg Perloff, CEO of Another Planet. “So many local stars on one stage for an amazing cause. I am so proud of what came together. It is truly special.”
Jodi Goodman, president of Live Nation Northern California, called the event “inspiring,” specifically pointing out “the amount of people who have worked on this from so many different (areas).”
“It happened so fast,” she said of the concert, which was announced in late October. “Everybody brought in their expertise. There ended up no strains in the sand, no egos.”
On paper, this was a concert that probably had no business working as well as it did. The lineup looked too diverse, drawing from too many different kinds of fan bases, to really be able to gel into one wholly satisfying evening.
Yet, people today looked as if it would dig pretty much everything, with guys in black Metallica T-shirts listening intently to Dave Matthews and tie-dyed Dead enthusiasts grooving to G-Eazy’s work (especially when the rapper led the crowd inside of a profanity-laced anti-Trump chant).
Perhaps that’s because men and women never lost sight of what the evening was all really about. Messages about the fireplace relief efforts had been played on the video screens between sets, taped by an assortment of notable individuals – ranging from rapper Snoop Dogg to Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg.
Musicians also used part of their time onstage to thank the first responders for their endeavours during the North Bay fires.
“I want to say thank you to those who risk their lives to save other lives,” Metallica front man James Hetfield said.
People today danced and sang throughout the night. And it had been great to so many smiles, especially following so many tears shed about what occurred in the North Bay.
“This is to raise spirits – not just to raise money,” said Mickey Hart of Dead & Company. “A lot of these men and women are down. They need some hope. They need the will to fight back – to rebuild if they need to rebuild, and to go on.”
Money from the Tipping Point Community, an organization that has set up an emergency reduction fund for “low-income, vulnerable communities impacted by the crisis, including vineyard workers, immigrants, displaced young people and students,” according to the statement on Metallica’s website.